Happiness. As a culture, we are obsessed with it. Why? What is happiness? What is it to you? Dictionary.com defines “happiness” as “the state of being happy”… well, duh!?! So what is happy? Dictionary.com defines “happy” as “delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.” Interesting… a particular thing implies that something material is what hopes us happy. Is it?
There are a lot of different opinions on happiness; what it is, and how to get more of it – and we have ours too. In our opinion, happiness is not something that relies on something outside of ourselves. But it isn’t something that exists independent of others either. As you may have learned in our YouTube video titled “The Secret to Happiness” we believe happiness is about adding value. It is something that comes from within us, but also exists in our relationship to others and the world around us.
So if you want advice on happiness from us, which we assume is why you’re here, here it is!
Billy’s Top 10 Secrets to Happiness
1. Recognize where your life doesn’t seem to fit.
Before we get to being happy, we have to own up to where (and why) we might be unhappy. So, to start, write your unhappy list. What are the things you would like to change, things that could be better, things that just don’t seem to fit quite right in your life right now? Knowing what you are unhappy with can be a great start to knowing what might be better for you.
2. Know your values and stick to ‘em.
Things make us unhappy when they are at odds with one or more of our core values. So if we don’t know what our core values are, how are we supposed to know what is being compromised? What keeps us from making the same mistakes again and again, compromising the same values again and again? Get to know YOUR values by taking our free values assessment here. Once you discover your top 10 values, go back to your unhappy list and write down which of your value(s) is being compromised with each item on your unhappy list.
3. Figure out your life purpose
Alright, so now you know what is keeping you from happiness (your unhappy list) and why you’re unhappy about it (your core values are compromised). Next is to start looking forward, and there is no better way to gain a sense of direction than by defining your life purpose. Here, we have two tools to help you. First, check out this video on how to find your life purpose and follow the activities recommended. Then, check out last month’s blog post on life purpose to get to know your life purpose, and how it can be used, inside and out. After that, go back to your unhappy list and put a “check mark” beside anything on that list that DOES help you fulfill your life purpose and an “X” beside anything that doesn’t.
4. Find things that DO “fit” you
Go back to your unhappy list. By now it should be pretty clear why those items aren’t a fit for you. They likely compromise one or more of your core values and/or they do not allow you to live your life purpose. Knowing our problems this well can often help present potential solutions. Go back to your unhappy list and beside each item write at least one possible alliterative that (a) would fit most/all of your core values and (b) that helps you fulfill your life purpose. For example, if your job doesn’t fit right now because it compromises your value of “Freedom” and doesn’t allow you to live your purpose of “helping others feel good about their bodies” perhaps there is a career that could? Maybe you’d be interested in being a personal training since they often work for themselves and are focused on that goal. The point isn’t to be “right” with all of it here, the point is to dream and start to narrow down a sense of what “fit” could look like for you.
5. Be more specific about the people you spend time with
If you’ve read Billy’s book, Your Comfort Zone is Killing You, you’d know how important your crew is. As Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, it is time for a new list. Write down the top 5 people you spend the most time with. Then, go back to each name and consider the questions “what does this person value?” “Does this person align with my values?” “Does this person support me in living true to my life purpose?” “What would be different if this person were not in my life?” If everyone in your top five is a great fit, adds to your values, and allows you to live your purpose – amazing! If not, who else in your life could do that better, and should they get a spot in your top five?
These aren’t easy considerations, and no one likes to lose a friend, but if it means your happiness it is worth considering. AND, sometimes it doesn’t have to come down to dropping them as friends, sometimes it merely warrants a conversation with them. If you end up needing to confront them, make sure you read the chapter in Billy’s book that helps you with how to do that!
6. Are you using your gifts?
Look, we are all about stepping outside of our comfort zones here at The Courage Crusade – but not ALL the time. Sometimes we need to feel like we are good at stuff in order to maintain some confidence. If we have no confidence we wouldn’t be very happy, would we? So, make sure you do things that allow you to use your unique gifts and strengths too. Not sure what your strengths are? Try this VIA Character Strengths quiz here OR, ask your friends and family. Often others will be honest if we promise them we won’t get mad and if we just ASK. Go on, we dare you!
7. Don’t do it for the recognition
Another quick road to misery is aiming for something that is not in our control and we certainly CANNOT control other people, their reactions or their level of appreciation. Is recognition great? Heck yes. Should it be what motivates us and what we hang our happiness on? Defs NO! People just are not that reliable, they have their own happiness to worry about and they can’t be responsible for yours too. So, keep the focus on you. Do what feels GOOD for you and remember that our happiness is DIRECTLY related to our ability to add value to other people’s lives, so if we hold ourselves back and only do things for recognition, it is US that loses too. Adding value is enough to be happy on its own, you won’t be thinking about recognition one bit if you live through that. And remember, there is a fine line between inspiring others and impressing them – but inspiration is what really makes the difference and we can only inspire others if we are being 100% ourselves and adding as much value as we can.
8. Be grateful for the good things
There is SO much we can say about gratitude, but others really have said it best. According to Robert Emmons at Greater Good (retrieved here), gratitude can help with a slew of physiological, psychological and social issues including the following:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated
Why? Well, gratitude reminds us of all the good in the world. It reminds us to be joyful. It reminds us that, even on the really bad days things are never all bad. It is ALSO a very social emotion, since we are often grateful for things that come from outside of ourselves. This makes us feel connected and taken care of which helps us feel less lonely.
Want to learn more about gratitude, why it matters, and how to cultivate more of it? My one-and-only, Joelle, recently released a great video on the subject here.
9. Give yourself a pat on the back
Related to gratitude, another thing we often forget to do is celebrate. Too often we move from one happy success right into our next goal. We hardly take a few moments to be WITH happiness and allow it to satisfy us. THAT takes pausing to soak in the moment and celebrate, even in small ways – and those celebrations are SUPER important. In fact, celebrating our successes is one of the most important steps to developing a new habit or maintaining old habits. The rewards don’t need to be huge, it can be as small as a few moments to breath or listening to a favourite song, or as big as treating oneself to a vacation or buying a new car. Just make sure the reward means something TO YOU, and it’ll go a long way.
For example, when Billy finished writing his book it was a HUGE accomplishment, but he was also pretty tired of it. You have to go over, and over, and over the book dozens of times before it is done. There was a lot of pain, toil and emotion that goes into a book and by the end he pretty much just wanted to be done with it. BUT, it was still important to celebrate the amazing thing he had just done. So, to reward himself, Billy would take the book and hold it, feel the cover, and just appreciate his name on the front cover for a minute or so every single night. He did this to let the accomplishment sink it, to celebrate what he had done. It was an important step in the process and brought him back to being happy and satisfied with the work!
10. Add as much value as you can
Last but not least, to sum it all up just add as MUCH value as you can. If you’re asking the question “Why” right now, watch our Secret to Happiness video here. People are dependent on one another, but we are also happiest when we belong. So, to belong we need to add value – so it FEELS super good when we do it. You want to be happy? Add value, and figure out how to do it in the best way possible for you. How? Well, by following the steps here of course OR you can always see how you can work with us here and we can help.
So there you have it, our top 10 secrets to happiness. Hey, we never said it was going to be easy but – trust us – all this hard work is sure to pay off. We believe that fulfillment is sustainable happiness and happy, fulfilled people are 100% authentic so they get the most out of life, feel loved, and make the world a better place.
Get in touch with Billy at email@example.com for any questions, or leave any comments below.